fiddle away

Annakrutitskaya

Senior Member
Russian
Hello!

As numerous sources suggest, fiddle away means to waste (something like time). What does fiddle away mean in the following context?

Doing so would result in a nasty look given by your co-workers as you fiddle away on your phone. Gazette Review-Apr 16, 2015
Does it mean "waste time playing or doing similar things with your phone"? I am confused by preposition on used after away.

Comforted by economic data that differs from the reality of many, lawmakers fiddle away in a Nero-like manner as the flames of poverty engulf a diverse cross-section of Americans.
Economic Poverty Is Bolstered by Moral Deprivation
Huffington Post-Mar 25, 2015
Does fiddle away imply that lawmakers loose time not doing any useful job?

Thank you!
 
  • Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Doing so would result in a nasty look given by your co-workers as you waste your time (for example, playing/talking) on your phone.

    ***
    Comforted by economic data that differs from the reality of many, lawmakers fiddle away in a Nero-like manner as the flames of poverty engulf a diverse cross-section of Americans.
    Economic Poverty Is Bolstered by Moral Deprivation
    Huffington Post-Mar 25, 2015
    Does fiddle away imply that lawmakers loose time not doing any useful job?
    Or to be more specific not doing much to prevent poverty in America.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    The second one refers to the story that the Emperor Nero set fire to Rome, then fiddled (actually played the fiddle = violin) while he watched the city burn. So this is somewhat stronger; it's saying the lawmakers are intentionally ignoring the real crisis. But in the first sentence it has the other meaning, of making idle motions with your fingers. (Historically that meaning comes from the other, playing the violin.)
     

    Annakrutitskaya

    Senior Member
    Russian
    The second one refers to the story that the Emperor Nero set fire to Rome, then fiddled (actually played the fiddle = violin) while he watched the city burn. So this is somewhat stronger; it's saying the lawmakers are intentionally ignoring the real crisis. But in the first sentence it has the other meaning, of making idle motions with your fingers. (Historically that meaning comes from the other, playing the violin.)
    Thank you very much. Now it's clear.
     
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